PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAN AUSTIN
Robert Berganza is a local woodworker who designs and creates furniture and wood installations. From the simple beauty of a well-made coffee table to the uniqueness of a made-to-measure reading chair, it is clear that the pieces speak for themselves.
Three years ago, Robert Berganza had no idea that he was a creative person let alone a skilled woodworker. What began as a personal therapeutic activity has since bloomed into a business focused on creating pieces that are made intentionally and responsibly. When he created his first piece, he designed it for himself.
The completely Eastern black walnut coffee table that is currently sitting in Berganza’s living room has a personality that is specifically tied to his own. The same sense of intentionality can be found in each of his pieces, although each personality is different.
“All of the decisions I make and how to make them is me considering what the piece would want and knowing just what its personality is,” says Berganza. Before this piece, Berganza didn’t know that he had woodworking skills, not to mention an innate creativity that he has yet to fully understand.
Berganza’s creative process is seemingly indescribable; even he doesn’t know where the ideas for his pieces come from. All he knows is that the pieces originate from somewhere inside of him, and each piece brings with it the urgency of getting it just right and making the piece the way it wants to, and should be, made. “I choose to believe that the intention, emotion, everything that goes into creating something like that stays with it. When I look at one of the pieces that I’ve made and everything that I’ve put into it, it feels like it has a soul,” says Berganza.
He strives to avoid the lifeless feeling of factory-produced furniture, believing that the work that goes into the piece is just as important as the piece itself. A key characteristic of his work that exemplifies his creative philosophy is the decision to exclude the use of any hardware or metal, so as to avoid contaminating the piece. What comes from this philosophy are pieces that consist of interlocking and connecting parts that come together to create furniture that is made exactly the way it was meant to be created.
“I choose to believe that the intention, emotion, everything that goes into creating something like that stays with it. When I look at one of the pieces that I’ve made and everything that I’ve put into it, it feels like it has a soul.”
Each piece of furniture that Robert Berganza creates ismeant to elicit a specific feeling or emotion in the spacethat it occupies.
Potentially his most impressive piece literally came to Berganza in a dream: the reading chair. This custom-fit, 100%-wooden chair is made specifically as an ode to the ritual and act of reading, made just for the reader. “I want the people who own these to feel when they sit in this, they just feel like, ‘This is perfect, this is me,’” says Berganza. However, he found that there was something missing beside the chair. He was then faced with the task of creating a table that still aligned with this tribute to reading. What came of the challenge was a table that perfectly fit a book and a drink, preserving its original purpose.
Each piece that Berganza creates is meant to elicit a specific feeling or emotion in the space that it occupies. By striving to create furniture that is more than just its appearance, he is able to create pieces that come to life.